Whenever I experience grief I always find myself left with a void. The knowledge that there’s one less person on this earth that loves me. One less person whose love I know to be good and strong and true.
All of a sudden I’m more exposed. Vulnerable. There’s a chink in my wall of protection.
The sunrise and sunset of the person I loved have come and gone. Each glow holding its own aching poignancy. The beauty of each is marred by the thoughts that fly across their golden hue: “Did I love them enough whilst they were here?”
Grief demands an answer. It turns over every table and tears apart each room. Every crack on the wall is examined. It wants to know why. And it will keep asking the question even though the answer will never be enough.
It will not bring them back.
Sometimes I watch my husband leave the room and I wonder what I will do on the day when he doesn’t return. When he can’t return. When he’s gone. Forever.
I fear the grief even before I’ve known the loss.
He reassures me when my fears spill over and I confide my frightened thoughts. “Nothing will happen to me” he says. “I’m not going anywhere”.
“You can’t know that” I reply, through tears. “You can’t say that because you can’t know”.
Afterwards I try to shake off the feeling. Reminding myself that all we have is the moment. But fear creeps into my moments at times, no matter how much I might prefer otherwise.
People don’t often talk about preparing for grief. There seems to be more emphasis on what we do after the event, once the void is already gaping. I sometimes think it’s our very human way of not wanting to accept that anything is out of our control. And yet, everything is.
I remember when I was six years old, there was a girl at my school who was visibly upset because her pet hamster had died. She was fighting back tears. With her shoulders shaking she said to me that her father had told her it was silly to cry over a hamster.
Even at that young age I remember being so surprised that anyone would try to minimize the grief of another. That anyone else got to choose what constituted an acceptable loss to mourn.
Our compassion and understanding towards the pain of others seems to be directly related to our own personal experience of loss. We form context accordingly. A young widow may not be moved at the death of a friends dog. A father that has lost his six month old baby may not be moved by the death of a senior.
But loss is loss. Pain is pain. And grief is grief.
My hope is that as we move forward into new years and next decades, we’ll also move forward with an increased ability to hold space for each other. Without judgement or expectation. Just a loving understanding and acceptance of what is.
Just as love cannot blossom in an environment that doesn’t support its expression, nor can grief be processed in a world that doesn’t honor it’s rightful place.
I’d like to see more openness about fear of loss as well as vulnerability after loss. I think that by sharing our darkness we make way for so much more light.
Skylar Liberty Rose
Photo credits: Leon Cato www.leoncato.com